By Samuel Stevens
Release Date: February 26, 2021
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
The Dutch symphonic metal titans, Epica, turned a turbulent year into a creative one by locking themselves away on a farm in the middle of nowhere to write and record their eighth studio album, Ωmega. Their brand new album is their most striking and spectacular album to date. Epica seamlessly incorporates their metal and orchestral arrangements like never before by delivering hard-hitting guitar riffs, elaborate compositions, and powerful vocals from both Simone Simons and Mark Jansen. Additionally, the band uses choirs on many of the songs and intertwine a wide range of ethnic instruments -that were recorded by several talented musicians from all across the globe- into the musical arrangements on Ωmega. Zaher Zorgati, vocalist of Myrath provides guest vocals on the track “Code of Life,” while Vicky Psarakis, the vocalist of The Agonist is featured on “Twilight Reverie – The Hypnagogic State.” Lastly, the band’s longtime friend and producer, Joost van den Broek once again stepped in to produce, and for the first time, Broek mixed the album.
Epica is made up of vocalist Simone Simons, guitarist/composer Mark Jansen, keyboardist Coen Janssen, bassist Rob van der Loo, drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek, and guitarist Isaac Delahaye. As aforementioned, they hunkered down in 2020 in a villa located on a farm in the middle of nowhere Holland to record an album that came naturally out of their friendship and bond -something they wanted to capture once again since their 2003 debut album, The Phantom Agony. The writing portion of the album was set into motion long before COVID-19 hit the world, so out of sheer luck, the band managed to get the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the children’s choir you hear on Ωmega, recorded on the very last day before lockdown hit. For the first time in years, the band was able to get together as a whole -the members of the band now live in four different continents- to get the album created from start to finish. The band’s parts were recorded in separate recording setups in several rooms in the villa they rented for just one week.
Epica’s eighth studio album opens with the cinematic folk metal-esque intro number, “Alpha – Anteludium,” before blasting right into the lead single, “Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity.” The single is endlessly catchy throughout and sees vocal duties being juggled between Simons’s sharp, operatic voice and Jansen’s guttural growls. “Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity” sends the album’s concept of The Omega Point into full effect. For anyone unaware of the history, The Omega Point is an assumed future where after the Alpha, the Big Bang, everything in the entire universe spirals toward a final point of unification. Additionally, the Omega Point is referenced in the Book of Revelation. Where Jesus Christ describes himself a few times as, “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”
The album’s second single, “Freedom – The Wolves Within,” is based on an old Cherokee story of a fight between two wolves. One that embodies good, the other that embodies evil. It states that we all have the same fight inside of us and what we want to be and what we want to reflect on the world around us depends on which wolf is fed and the degree of control we have over our inner wolves. Ωmega also brings forth the third installment to the band’s epic “Kingdom of Heaven” saga. “Kingdom of Heaven, Part 3 – The Antediluvian Universe” comes with a whopping thirteen and a half minute run time and is the grandest, most ambitious, touching numbers yet -and of the entire album. The track is a real treat for all Epica fans new and old as brings twist and turns all along the way. The song takes a journey down the rabbit hole genre-wise and incorporates various metal sub-genres into one extensive track. The first part of “Kingdom of Heaven, Part 3 – The Antediluvian Universe” was conceived after Jansen’s grandmother sadly passed away. He then wrote the third part with Isaac when Isaac’s grandmother passed away -both within one week of each other.
Track nine on Ωmega titled, “Rivers,” is the album’s most restrained track. The song is just Simone, piano, and minimal orchestration for the majority of its run time before the song picks up to deliver a powerful, yet emotional send-off with the use of a child choir and Simone’s powerful vocal performance. The song itself symbolizes the calmness and the uncertainty in life, the ebb, and flow. The calm water represents peace, and a strong river stream means that you have to face challenges and swim against the tide of life, as the lyrics state. Closing out the album is the title track, “Omega – Sovereign of the Sun Spheres.” Beginning with a similar cinematic arrangement as “Alpha – Anteludium,” the final song promises to deliver with its hard-hitting, catchy musical renditions to please all listeners one more time before the cinematics fade out.
Stay in touch with Epica by visiting their social media in the links provided below. Come February 26th, make sure to stream and/or purchase the band’s eighth studio album, Ωmega.